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Is It Who You Are or Where You Live? Residential Segregation and Racial Gaps in Childhood Asthma

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  • Diane Alexander
  • Janet Currie

Abstract

Higher asthma rates are one of the more obvious ways that health inequalities between African American and other children are manifested beginning in early childhood. In 2010, black asthma rates were double non-black rates. Some but not all of this difference can be explained by factors such as a higher incidence of low birth weight (LBW) among blacks; however, even conditional on LBW, blacks have a higher incidence of asthma than others. Using a unique data set based on the health records of all children born in New Jersey between 2006 and 2010, we show that when we split the data by whether or not children live in a “black” zip code, this racial difference in the incidence of asthma among LBW children entirely disappears. All LBW children in these zip codes, regardless of race, have a higher incidence of asthma. Our results point to the importance of residential segregation and neighborhoods in explaining persistent racial health disparities.

Suggested Citation

  • Diane Alexander & Janet Currie, 2017. "Is It Who You Are or Where You Live? Residential Segregation and Racial Gaps in Childhood Asthma," NBER Working Papers 23622, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23622 Note: CH HC HE
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Janet Currie & Joshua Graff Zivin & Katherine Meckel & Matthew Neidell & Wolfram Schlenker, 2013. "Something in the water: contaminated drinking water and infant health," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 46(3), pages 791-810, August.
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    8. Janet Currie & Reed Walker, 2011. "Traffic Congestion and Infant Health: Evidence from E-ZPass," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 65-90, January.
    9. Jeffrey R Kling & Jeffrey B Liebman & Lawrence F Katz, 2007. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 83-119, January.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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